refers to the practice of cable subscribers obtaining service without paying. With the advent of digital cable
, cases of people obtaining illegal service are rare. Digital cable is more secure and is very difficult to crack. Old cable equipment used an analog signal
that was scrambled by tuning the signal so the picture was unsteady, just as Macrovision
does at an attempt to copy a video. The equipment would descramble the signal so that it can be viewed by the subscriber. It also is addressable, meaning that it can be remotely controlled by the company's technical staff. The first case covered by the media was when 317 subscribers were caught in 1991
when the company they subscribed to sent a "bullet" (a video signal that turns off the equipment) to their cable boxes
. The boxes were modified, but possibly belonged to the cable company. Months later, an episode of The Simpsons
aired Homer vs. Lisa and the 8th Commandment
steals cable and watches a Pay Per View boxing
match with his friends at his house.
Active Passive and Premium Theft
Most cable companies identify cable theft as one of 3 groups.
Passive "theft" is when a customer has service that they are not paying for but that they did not actively cause. Examples of this are moving into a new home or apartment where service is still active, or if the cable company does not disconnect your service even after you are no longer paying for it.
The difference in Active theft is Intent
. the subscriber has knowingly made an illegal connection.
When a customer has a level of service that is greater than what they are billed for that is known as premium or trap theft. This includes subscribers who use descramblers and filters as well as subscribers who remove filters from their line in order to receive additional analog services.